A pair of bills have been introduced into the Mississippi legislature that seek to accomplish the same thing: raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and alternative nicotine delivery products from 18 to 21-years-old in hopes of reducing exposure to young people.

House Bill 87, introduced by Rep. Bryant Clark, D-47, and House Bill 190, introduced by Rep. Deborah Butler Dixon, D-63, are nearly identical bills, modifying existing laws to change the language regarding the purchase of tobacco products. The former is a bit more complex than the latter, as it also seeks to authorize the state Department of Health to conduct random, unannounced inspections to ensure compliance of the changes. In addition, it seeks to add certain legislative findings to the law as well as provide updated definitions to terms regarding tobacco and nicotine delivery products.

HB 87 is also seeking fines for both retailers and consumers who violate the law. Individuals selling to a minor would face fines starting at $300 for a first offense and escalating to $1,000 for a third offense, and could face a one-year suspension of the license needed to sell tobacco products. A person under 21 attempting to purchase tobacco products would face a first time fine of $10, though it escalates to $50 for each subsequent offense, although it could be substituted for 48 to 72 hours of community service. Signage requirements and mandatory identification checks for persons under 30 are also part of the bill.

Both bills are seeking a start date of July 1, 2017 and have been referred to the House Committee on Drug Policy.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.